Hit | Miss | Sideline: Good to see Fletch back after long stretch out
It was great to see Darren Fletcher scoring his first goal for Manchester United since getting back from what seemed a very severe illness. The relief and joy on his face looked like a man releasing all the pent-up frustration for him in recent times.
Darren is the ultimate professional – going about his work on a matchday in a low-key way while others take the centre stage and plaudits. I can guarantee you, though, that his team-mates are delighted that he is back because he is the catalyst who allows the more flair players to express themselves.
Fletcher has obviously been to hell and back, with what he has been through, and, at times, it was intimated that he would have to retire. How close to the truth that was, only he and a few others will know.
Sir Alex Ferguson has believed in him from an early age and, before his long absence, he was looking like the main man for United in the middle. He has no doubt worked ever so hard to get back up to speed and he, the club and, no doubt, his family deserve great credit for that.
It was great to see him return and now, hopefully, that will be the end of his troubles and he can go on to have a productive season in a team that I believe will grab the title back off their big local rivals Manchester City.
Sunderland have hit a bit of a rough patch at the moment and, on Saturday, they were outplayed against an outstanding West Brom team in their 4-2 defeat. Sunderland have quality all over the pitch and a very strong spine in Mignolet, O’Shea, Cattermole and Fletcher.
Most teams go through this spell. Sunderland won 3-1 at Fulham last week, and you would think that’s the turning point, but the Premier League is very unforgiving. They have an experienced and good manager in Martin O’Neill and I’m sure he can steady the ship.
It’s a huge club with a huge fan base but, with all good fan bases, comes expectation and that is something that they will have to deal with. I’m positive that they will be OK and they have a strong squad with talent and experience. But it’s safe to say that the visit of QPR tomorrow night could be a defining game for both teams for the season ahead.
So Mark Hughes has been relieved of his duties at QPR and Harry Redknapp has taken over the reins. I don’t think QPR could have brought in a better manager for the situation they are in.
I remember when Harry returned to Portsmouth a few years ago. Everybody thought he was crazy. They were languishing in the league and he went there and somehow guided them to safety, which is still one of the most remarkable turnarounds I have seen in recent years.
Redknapp takes with him bags of experience and know how and he is inheriting what I believe to be a talented squad. Barring his unsuccessful reign at Southampton, he has done well wherever he has been and any player who I know who has worked with him always say that he is one of the best.
I’m sure he will get money to spend in January and he is very astute with signings. I’m sure QPR will be fine and I go as far to say that, come the last few weeks of the season, they will be mid-table.